Portugal: Coins Issued and Used

Showing only circulating coin types (regular coinage plus circulating commemoratives).

Portugal (1910 - )
Information about what currencies were issued by Portugal, with lists of coinage, as well as periods when foreign-issued currencies were used.
Currency: Portuguese Dinheiro. Used in Portugal: (1179 - 1502)
CurrencyPortuguese Dinheiro
PeriodPortuguese Dinheiro
Used1179 - 1502
Description

The dinheiro was the currency of Portugal from around the late 12th century until approximately 1502. For accounting purposes, twelve dinheiros equalled one soldo and twenty soldos equal one libra. The basis of the monetary system was that of the Roman Empire (denarii, solidi, librae).

The first Portuguese coins were issued by the first king, Afonso I. Some time after 1179, he ordered the issue of coins in denominations of half a dinheiro (called a mealha) and one dinheiro. They were copied from the Spanish dinero and were consequently minted in billon. These circulated alongside Byzantine siliquae and Moorish dirhem and dinar.

Around 1200, Sancho I also introduced the gold morabitino (cf. Spanish maravedí), worth 15 soldos. A century later, in the reign of King Denis, the silver tornês was introduced, worth 5½ soldos.

In 1380, King Ferdinand I introduced several new coins. There were gold dobra, worth 6 libras, silver real worth 10 soldos and various billon denominations, some of whose names related to war equipment used by the French who helped Portugal in the war against Castile, such as the pilarte worth seven dinheiros.

During the reign of King João I, a new real was introduced, known either as the "real of 3½ libras" or the "real branco". With a value of 70 soldos, this was to become the unit of account by the beginning of the reign of João I's successor (King Duarte I) in 1433.

Note that in modern Portuguese, the word "dinheiro" means "money".

Currency: Portuguese Real. Used in Portugal: (1430 - 1911)
CurrencyPortuguese Real
PeriodPortuguese Real
Used1430 - 1911
Description

The real (meaning "royal", plural: réis or [archaic] reais) was the unit of currency of Portugal from around 1430 until 1911. It replaced the dinheiro at the rate of 1 real = 840 dinheiros and was itself replaced by the escudo (as a result of the Republican revolution of 1910) at a rate of 1 escudo = 1000 réis. The escudo was further replaced by the euro at a rate of 1 euro = 200.482 escudos in 2002.

Before the middle of the 19th century, many different denominations were minted, often with values in terms of the real which increased over time. For example, the cruzado was introduced at a value of 324 real branco in the reign of João II. It was fixed at a value of 400 réis during João III's reign and this remained the value of the silver cruzado until the reign of Pedro II, when it was revalued to 480 réis. Meanwhile, the gold cruzado rose in value to 750 réis in the reign of João IV, then to 875 réis in the reign of Afonso VI before its demise. Two denominations which did not change their values were the vintém of 20 réis and the tostão of 100 réis.

The last 1 real coins (excluding colonial issues) were minted in the 1580s. After this time, the smallest coins were worth 1½ réis. These were minted until around 1750, after which the three réis coin became the smallest circulating denomination. From the early 18th century, the standard gold coin was the peça, valued at 6400 réis (7500 réis after 1826).

In the late 18th century and early 19th century, copper coins were issued in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 20 and 40 réis, with silver 50, 60, 100, 120, 240 and 480 réis and gold 480, 800, 1200, 1600, 3200 and 6400 réis. Some of these coins showed denominations which were no longer accurate due to earlier revaluations. These included the 240 and 480 réis which were inscribed 200 and 400.

In 1837, a decimal system was adopted, with copper coins (bronze from 1882) of 3, 5, 10 and 20 réis, silver coins for 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 réis and gold 1000, 2000, 2500, 5000 and 10,000 réis. In 1875, the last 3 réis coins were issued, with cupro-nickel 50 and 100 réis issued in 1900.

Currency: Portuguese Escudo. Used in Portugal: (1911 - 2002)
CurrencyPortuguese Escudo
PeriodPortuguese Escudo
Used1911 - 2002
Description

The escudo (sign $; code: PTE) was the currency of Portugal prior to the introduction of the euro on 1 January 1999 and its removal from circulation on 28 February 2002. The escudo was subdivided into 100 centavos.

The escudo was introduced on 22 May 1911, after the 1910 Republican revolution, to replace the real at the rate of 1,000 réis to 1 escudo. The term mil réis (thousand réis) remained a colloquial synonym of escudo up to the 1990s. One million réis was called one conto de réis, or simply one conto. This expression passed on to the escudo, meaning 1,000$.

Between 1912 and 1916, silver 10, 20 and 50 centavos and 1 escudo coins were issued. Bronze 1 and 2 centavos and cupro-nickel 4 centavos were issued between 1917 and 1922.

In 1920, bronze 5 centavos and cupro-nickel 10 and 20 centavos were introduced, followed, in 1924, by bronze 10 and 20 centavos and aluminium bronze 50 centavos and 1 escudo. Aluminium bronze was replaced with cupro-nickel in 1927.

In 1932, silver coins were introduced for 2½, 5 and 10 escudos. The 2½ and 5 escudos were minted until 1951, with the 10 escudos minted until 1955 with a reduced silver content. In 1963, cupro-nickel 2½ and 5 escudos were introduced, followed by aluminium 10 centavos, bronze 20 and 50 centavos and 1 escudo in 1969. Cupro-nickel 10 and 25 escudos were introduced in 1971 and 1977, respectively. In 1986, a new coinage was introduced which circulated until replacement by the euro. It consisted of nickel-brass 1, 5 and 10 escudos, cupro-nickel 20 and 50 escudos, with bimetallic 100 and 200 escudos introduced in 1989 and 1991.

Currency: Euro. Used in Portugal: (1999 - present)
CurrencyEuro
PeriodEuro
Used1999 - present
Description

The currency was introduced in non-physical form (traveller's cheques, electronic transfers, banking, etc.) at midnight on 1 January 1999, when the national currencies of participating countries (the eurozone) ceased to exist independently. Their exchange rates were locked at fixed rates against each other. The euro thus became the successor to the European Currency Unit (ECU). The notes and coins for the old currencies, however, continued to be used as legal tender until new euro notes and coins were introduced on 1 January 2002.

The changeover period during which the former currencies' notes and coins were exchanged for those of the euro lasted about two months, until 28 February 2002. The official date on which the national currencies ceased to be legal tender varied from member state to member state. The earliest date was in Germany, where the mark officially ceased to be legal tender on 31 December 2001, though the exchange period lasted for two months more. Even after the old currencies ceased to be legal tender, they continued to be accepted by national central banks for periods ranging from several years to forever (the latter in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Estonia and Latvia for banknotes and coins; also, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Slovakia will accept banknotes forever, but not coins). The earliest coins to become non-convertible were the Portuguese escudos, which ceased to have monetary value after 31 December 2002, although banknotes remain exchangeable until 2022.

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